The Black Maria - Lead Us To Reason (Cover Artwork)

The Black Maria

The Black Maria: Lead Us To ReasonLead Us To Reason (2005)
Victory Records

Reviewer Rating: 2

Contributed by: AnchorsAnchors
(others by this writer | submit your own)

The Black Maria's debut album, Lead Us To Reason, is the latest release in the new influx of bands that Victory has been signing left and right lately. Gone are the days of Snapcase, and and in are the days of Silverstein and Hawthorne Heights. Long gone are the glory days, and pretty much all Victo.
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The Black Maria's debut album, Lead Us To Reason, is the latest release in the new influx of bands that Victory has been signing left and right lately. Gone are the days of Snapcase, and and in are the days of Silverstein and Hawthorne Heights. Long gone are the glory days, and pretty much all Victory has left with us are retreads of retreads. Well, one would assume The Black Maria follow the same pitfalls of so many of it's more recent predecessors, but such is not necessarily the case. While not giving us anything new, or inventive, The Black Maria have provided a release that I'm sure some of you will find to be an enjoyable record, if not for just a little while.

Boasting ex-members of Grade and New Day Rising, the 5-piece are able to craft an album that provides some moments of promise. The two singers work well with each other, providing some catchy hooks and good harmonies, but all too often ruin the song with a moment or two of screaming that feels all too forced. The musicianship is tight for the most part, and through the more up-tempo and slower songs, they do provide a good flow though the album's duration, which is about 40 minutes, just enough not to wear out its welcome.

Leading off with "The Memento," both vocalists have their moments at different points, and this is a song that will make you bob your head, tap your foot, or do whatever you must. It's a real enjoyable track, but the screaming of "I hate you!" at the end adds too much of a cheese factor. That's one of this album's major downfalls; the lyrical content.

With lines like "I reach for razor blades, I want to cut myself / I don't like what I see, we won't make it so why should we stop it?" I just can't take it seriously, or even appreciate it in any context. Also, in "Betrayal," the lyrics are equally as cliché, and over the top; "Betrayal, betrayal, it rips right through me / How you lie right to me, betrayal, betrayal / Will this world make better sense / when you mean nothing to me?" It's not as much a sticking point for me as with other bands, but if you're trying to separate themselves from the pack as their bio claims, that's not the direction you want to be going in.

The album does have its highlights, most notably the album's closer "Rats In The Prison." The song keeps a great tempo, and I really enjoy the approach they've taken with the vocals in this instance. Both vocalists have strong voices, and they're put to the test with this track. To compliment this sound, there's the more low-key moments, as with "The Lines We Cross." It's a subtle, piano-driven track that fits nicely in the middle of the album. But other than that, nothing really deviates from the standard formula the rest of the album follows. The formula itself can't be faulted, since it's not horrible, but the lack of willing to stray oustide of itself really brings the potential replay value of the album down.

All and all, this isn't a horrible CD. It's got its moments, and shows that with some direction, and actually finding an identity of its own, it really could be a solid piece of music. My main issues are the lack of variety, the lyrical content, and the needless screams, the last of which are obviously only present to try and appeal to another group of kids than would normally listen to this. They just need to find a direction of their own, and go running with it. With some work, these guys could be a solid act, but for now, the training wheels need to stay on just a little bit longer.


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Anonymous (September 2, 2006)

when I saw them the singer was doing all these stupid theatrics like the "hang myslelf with the microphone coard" really bad. 2 kids in the front were singing along and when they finished they threw the drumsticks...nobody tried to catch them, they just hit some chick in the head.

crazytoledo (August 9, 2006)


Anonymous (November 24, 2005)

I for one think you're all going a bit far with all of this. The Black Maria are The Black Maria, and Grade is Grade. Comparisons are really unfair given all the great things that Grade did. This is meant to be something different. Take it for what it is. It's a good album, made by talented people. I wish them all the best.

Anonymous (May 31, 2005)

One of my favorites!!

crazytoledo (May 19, 2005)

Ok CD that gets way to generic way to fast with nothing standing out, yet I still like it for a listen from time to time...

Anonymous (May 2, 2005)

this CD fucking owns all you haters need to wake up! anyone who thinks this CD sucks obviously listens to britney spears all the time or something! People can't critisize them it's really good and to the haters- when i see YOU out there releasing a record, maybe your opinions will matter. but they wont and they dont.

Anonymous (April 24, 2005)

Forgot to put a score below!

Anonymous (April 24, 2005)

Well I wasnt too sure about The Black Maria at first. Picked up Lead us to Reason because I heard Kyle Bishop is in the band. At first I thought it was OK. But I just seen them last night at the Shelter in Detroit and had a chance to talk to Mr. Bishop himself. He went over why Grade had broken up with me and how the band was doing very well and for once in his life he was makin money. But Kyle was unhappy with the band, he was the last original member in grade and was now in his 30's playing with a bunch of young'ns. So he quite and wanted to do something that was fun again. He gave up the lead role to play guitar. I must admit it was wierd seeing him play guitar but he did a great job and we still get to hear him scream once and a while. Anyways, thier set is very tight, they sound much better live than on the cd. For all the doubters posting here I suggest seeing them live, it may just change your mind. Yes there is room for improvement but hey, this is their first fucking album! Quit bitchin about lyrics, I quit reading lyrics after grade broke up. Most bands have nothing new to say anyways. As long as the music is good and keeps your interest and there is a sing-a-long here and there its all gravy. Anyways, again I suggest seeing them live, they are very friendly and I think you will have a better appreciation for them.

DouglasTheFishie (April 16, 2005)

Well, they may look like just another victory churn-off (and probably are as far as victory's concerned) , but they are a band that clearly knows what they are doing. The instrumentation is excellent, although to say they don't have a strong pop/punk sensibility is completely wrong, they clearly do. Rather than sticking to the formulaic sing/scream pattern frequented on so many recent releases however they actually try to mix it up with long periods of singing and minimal screaming, unpunctuated by the (textbook) screaming which does make an appearance. Although due to its somewhat un-needed nature it often feels "tacked on".The lyrics, while hardly the most beautiful ever written,do wander away from the "safety curtain" of slit wrists and broken hearted emo cliches, not that thats neccessarily a good thing as the lines, "There's a poison coming from the tv/ The buzzing attracts the fleas" suggest! Conversely the vocals that utter these words are one of the strongest aspects of the album, and really appeal to me. as gray and bishop meld together to typical, but well above average effect. .
All in all, a fine album that easily distinguishes itself from the likes of hawthorne heights, without jumoing up and begging for you to buy it. If you lap up this kind of emo music you probably already own the cd, if you dont, its unlikely to convert you, go and buy a copy of "full collapse" by thursday instead....no really, go, now!

Anonymous (April 8, 2005)

When i first heard Kyle Bishop was back in business, i said, "hooray." I went to the Black Maria's website only to see a picture of these young lads standing IN FRONT of such a god? I said, "nay." Now i dont even want to listen to this band. Kyle, get out of there while you still can!

Anonymous (April 5, 2005)

For all you's that hate this CD just FUCK OFF you're not even worth the time or space you may not know good music if it was playin right in front of your fucked up faces. This is an awesome band no matter what you fuckin say we don't have time for your shit so take it somewhere else. This band is the best and i can't wait to go party'n with them and to see them in concert, i love their CD it's the best and i don't give a shit what you think!!!
Party Hard Derek keep Nate in line haha
Call again soon

Anonymous (March 1, 2005)

OMG these guys are just AWESOME.. i saw them live and they were GREAT..and pretty hot too!!!! buy there CD its worth it :)

Anonymous (February 18, 2005)

Screw all you haters. This album is awsome. This band is INASNE live. They are so good!! This is a million times better than your regular run of the mill whiney emo shit like taking back sunday. and guess what, th songs on this album dont all sound the exact same....like every fucking other emo band out there. The lyrics are awsome too. AND...they know how to make a song catchy without making it poppy. Both singers in this band have awsome vocals too, so there. shut up and really listen to this!

Anonymous (February 6, 2005)

AWSOME SONG AWSOME BAND i saw then in concert

Anonymous (February 2, 2005)

man... when do all you self-righteous "critics" find time to listen to the tracks when you're so busy bitching at each other over whether or not this band falls into the trendy sub-genre that you want or don't want it to?
Listen to the CD, then listen to it again, and you'll realize that while there's lots of room for improvement, there's also alot that's already there to appreciate. I think the best thing about this band is the power they command with their songs in so many ways - the screaming, the melodies, the rumbling double-kick... there's enough there to show this band might develop into something amazing, but it's clear they're not there yet.

Anonymous (January 31, 2005)

Kyle Bishop seriously had better leave this band... he can do so much better.

Anonymous (January 31, 2005)

Dude, you haven't even heard the record.

Anonymous (January 31, 2005)

Horrible horrible cookie-cutter shit. I hate this My-parents-are-super-rich-but-my-hair-is-dyed-black-because-I'm-s o-misunderstood-so-I-scream-about-my-girlfriend shit

Anonymous (January 30, 2005)

Hardcore band???? Are you fucking kidding me??? These guys don't even know what hardcore is!!! This stuff is piss bucket schlock!!!

Anonymous (January 30, 2005)

I think its just because I am into all this music because I am a teenager. but I love this album. I dont really think its emo. because if it was, I wouldnt listen to it.
I really like Black Maria, but I think someone else said they need to scream a little more and I agree with that. they give off the impression that they are a hardcore band but they dont back it up.

Anonymous (January 29, 2005)

I think you "kids" need to go back a bit further in music and you will find that Grade are not pioneers or "trend"setters. Trends are for fucking sheep!!! The reason bands are remembered or liked past and present is because they did what they wanted and bucked the trends you go against the grain not with it!!!

Anonymous (January 29, 2005)

Can someone translate the comment directly below this one for me?

hobbitcore (January 28, 2005)

You guys are too quick to label this band as typical screamo. This is good shit.

right...this is way better than all those generic screamo bands...keen observation...

don't leave your house too much...you might hurt yourself...

Anonymous (January 28, 2005)

This album and band are both great. I've seen these guys live and they play with alotta energy and emotion. They rock hard and have alotta potential.

Anonymous (January 28, 2005)

Whoever said Grade was a "straight up hardcore band" on Separate The Magnets is a hunk of shit. Liar!

Anonymous (January 28, 2005)

I don't mind the the screaming bits coming from Kyle... someone mentioned following "the trend", but I think it is perfectly fine for him to do so as a pioneer of "the trend".

Anonymous (January 28, 2005)

You guys are too quick to label this band as typical screamo. This is good shit.

Anonymous (January 28, 2005)

screamo? what the fuck is that? seriously.

hobbitcore (January 27, 2005)

The Black Maria rocks hard !! Ive seen them live and they are great. I think they bring a different tune to screamo.

jesus christ...
kill yourself.

Anonymous (January 27, 2005)

I got the sampler for this, listened to it once, and tossed it in the trash. What a pile of shit.

Anonymous (January 27, 2005)

i think these guys kick ass i love them they are rockin!!!

Anonymous (January 27, 2005)

Bishop rules, I agree with the guy below who said he'd be excited when kyle bishop fronts a band. I saw Grade live a few times, and this doesnt even stack up close to their level... off to listen to under the radar. - bigjerk

Anonymous (January 27, 2005)

The Black Maria rocks hard !! Ive seen them live and they are great. I think they bring a different tune to screamo.

Anonymous (January 26, 2005)

someone should review the life at these speeds ep over this shit

CallingLondon (January 26, 2005)

why oh why does EVERY band have to have screaming? WHY???

Anonymous (January 26, 2005)

how can u not tell the difference between Hawthorne and Silverstein?

are you serious?

is she serious?

Anonymous (January 26, 2005)

I looked for this in Best Buy yesterday, but they didn't have it. I really like Betrayal.

Anonymous (January 26, 2005)

i tihnk it's sad seeing this and the bright eyes reviewed in the same week

this is really too sad

Anonymous (January 25, 2005)

how can u not tell the difference between Hawthorne and Silverstein?

Anonymous (January 25, 2005)

that's part of the reason why grade broke up.
kyle's voice just couldn't hold up during the rigors of touring.
plus the fact that the replacements he got to keep grade going screwed him over and all left.
when kyle bishop headlines a new band is when i'll be excited.
this just sucks.

Anonymous (January 25, 2005)

I got that Victory Records sampler CD and I simply could not tell the fucking difference between Silverstein and Hawthorne Heights.

At least they still have Darkest Hour and BTBAM

Bayside is pretty good too.

aubin (January 25, 2005)

I was pretty disappointed to hear this, not because it's completely awful, but just because I expected a lot more from Kyle Bishop.

Grade was pretty great, regardless of whether they were emocore or not (and they certainly were a straight up hardcore band on Separating the Magnets)

I also can't figure out why Bishop didn't sing. The guy they have is perfectly competent, but also perfectly generic.

Jesse (January 25, 2005)

Hey, Paul ‚??

Everyone in this band is like 30.

Anonymous (January 25, 2005)

i took one look at these guys in their 'look i'm a scary 19 year old w/ makeup on' promo photo and threw up on myself. Dudes, growing up in long islands suburbs or whereever you're from doesnt make you scary. you look like dorks. dammit. fuck this shit.


Anonymous (January 25, 2005)

Whoever said Under The Radar was screamo...it's emocore! Grade was definitive emocore, know your sub-genres.

This album's alright...I don't pay attention to lyrics. :)

fistchode (January 25, 2005)

objective music reviews..

any person that claims to be objective about music is an idiot.

ThriveToFailure (January 25, 2005)

I would really hate this band... except I don't think they're really worth the time or the effort.

The lyrics quoted in the review are pretty dire, however. There's only one reason bands like this make reference to self-injury, and that's to make $$$ from impressionable and emotionally-disturbed teenage girls who think the band "relates" to their problems.

Just once I'd like to hear a band like this telling kids "quit harming yourself, go get help".

Anonymous (January 25, 2005)

Victory either signs either straight up metal bands(Darkest Hour, Dead to Fall) or straight up emo bands(Hawthorne Heights, Silverstein, this band). There are a few exceptions.. Ten Foot Pole, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Action Action, and Comeback Kid. But yeah, what a fucked up label.


Allular (January 25, 2005)

Well, I do agree with you on the song "Mirrors and Cameras". I dig the screams cause Kyle totally rips at them. I don't think he screams on "The Momento" though.

Regardless, punknews.org needs more objective reviews.

Anchors (January 25, 2005)

It would have gotten a probably a five or 6, were it not for the lyrics and the fact that they need to follow the trend and throw in a scream here or there.

I chose to focus more on the positive elements, because they do show a lot of them, and I think that they do have the talent to be something better someday. But overall, it's just slightly less than mediocre.

Allular (January 25, 2005)

Oh, and score's for the review. Although, I don't think it's deserving of two stars for how many positive's you give it, it's probably one of the better reviews as of late.

Allular (January 25, 2005)

It's nice to hear Kyle's voice here and there on the album. This band has promise for sure.

Anonymous (January 25, 2005)

you suck you sucky suckity suck suck

Jesse (January 25, 2005)

Nope, that album sucks majorly.

Anonymous (January 25, 2005)


Anonymous (January 25, 2005)

Whoa. Grade definitely did not suck. "Under the Radar" might be the single best screamo album recorded before the genre turned into emo with screaming (ala Taking Back Sunday). It was accessible, melodic, yet pulled no punches... plus the production was about perfect: refined yet not manufactured (something that marred the recorded output of some other great bands like the Sleepytime Trio). Yes, their last album was a disappointment, but so many bands flame out on one truly classic release that it shouldn't count against them.


Jesse (January 25, 2005)

Hey, guess what? Grade has always sucked, and this sucks even more.

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